close
The Prisoner of Azkaban

If you would recall the first scene in HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN (2004), we open with  exterior shot that zooms through Harry’s windows (glass) transitioning to an interior scene where Harry is beneath the covers – a wand in his hand illuminating his hidden space as he leafs through the pages of QUIDDITCH THROUGH THE AGES. Every once in a while, Uncle Vernon enters the room, suspicious that something fishy is happening. And every time Vernon opens the door to check on Harry, Harry immediately lies on his side and pretends to be asleep.

For at least the first minute and a half of the film, we see the pattern: Harry, underneath the “covers” with the “wand” in his hand, and Vernon (an adult-figure), trying to invade Harry’s “private space.”

Before the second round of this pattern, Harry frustratingly shouts, “Lumos Maxima!” to see the book for the last time that evening — consequently blasting a brighter light that pushes the frame back to an exterior shot. And then we see Vernon, obligingly adhering to the same pattern, opens the door, once again, to peer inside the room.

Like before, Harry is already under the sheets, lying on his side and facing the camera. We see him smiling as if he won. And we see Vernon, frowning with an innocent defeat.

If you look closely, this early scene in PRISONER OF AZKABAN, exhibits Director Alfonso Cuaron’s fixation on the psychosexual. Here, we see a newer Harry — a young man emerging from an innocent orphan wizard to a curious, rebelling adolescent who is starting to explore his sexuality. The “sheets” represent the privacy he needs, and pointed “wand” represents the phallus. He plays with it under the covers, hiding and keeping to himself.

And then we have the “adult” Uncle Vernon, peering through the room, trying to catch a “misdemeanor.” But Harry, like every other adolescent, has already learned the trick to get away with it. He pretends to “sleep” when the adult presents himself. Here, “sleeping” symbolizes the social norms that we impose on young adults — a requirement we impose on the young.

The final blast from the “wand” is arguably the symbolic orgasm under the sheets. Harry finally gets what he wants, or so he thinks. It is explosive, bright, blinding, and final. After such climax, he can finally rest…and smile.

To examine the scene from a Freudian perspective is very interesting. I always share this with my classes in Film Criticism and Literary Analysis, stressing that occasionally, creators use symbols and compositions to establish deeper meaning into their frames. Harry’s new explorations of his own sexuality in this opening scene manifests quite well through masturbatory symbolisms, actions and reactions.

See the entire opening scene below:

Had Chris Columbus continued directing the 3rd film, we would have brushed this scene off. Or probably, Columbus wouldn’t open the film with such a scene. But Cuaron’s interest in early sexual explorations makes the opening of this film quite shocking, yet wonderfully satisfying. We know now that we are to see a different Harry. One who is detached, reflective, and most of all — human.

Happy 20th anniversary to all HP fans!

Tags : alfonso cuaronfilmharry potterharry potter and the prisoner of azkaban
Orly S. Agawin

The author Orly S. Agawin

Orly has been writing for The Jellicle Blog since 2008. He is a training and development consultant by day and an art enthusiast by night. He lives in Parañaque with his mom.

Leave a Response


Warning: Cannot assign an empty string to a string offset in /home/jellicle/public_html/wp-includes/class.wp-scripts.php on line 426

Warning: Cannot assign an empty string to a string offset in /home/jellicle/public_html/wp-includes/class.wp-scripts.php on line 426